Words making the Headlines – Brexit

Brexit dotted-line

Reading the news is a good way to build your vocabulary. This is the first of an occasional series about words that appear in the headlines of English-language news stories.

It won’t surprise you that today’s word is Brexit. This term is used to talk about the end of the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union.

Brexit is two words merged together*: British and exit. It’s always written with a capital B because the first part comes from British.

Brexit is a noun but it’s often used to modify another noun, for example this article from the Guardian newspaper contains:

GB in the EU car stickerBrexit terms [the details of a future agreement with the other members of the EU]

Brexit bill [the amount of money the UK might have to pay for leaving the EU]

Brexit promises [commitments by both sides of the negotiations]

Brexit minister [a member of the UK government responsible for managing the UK’s exit from the EU]

There are also different types of Brexit. A hard Brexit means a situation where the UK gives up all the commitments and benefits of EU membership. A soft Brexit means a situation where the UK keeps some of those commitments and benefits.

Supporters of Brexit are often referred to as Brexiteers. People who do not agree with the plan to leave the EU are called Remainers. It’s important to note that British people only use these terms to talk about other people. We never use them to describe our own position in the debate.

If you would like to suggest a word from the news for future blog posts, please use the comment box.


Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.


* The technical term for this is a portmanteau word.


by Barney


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